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Cambridge English Teacher Cambridge University Press and Cambridge English Language Assessment 2014

Doing Peer Observation as Part of Teacher Research







Aims:
to help teachers develop ways of learning from their peers through well-planned peer
observation.

Materials required:
none

Appropriate for:
teachers with any level of experience

There are several ways in which teachers can develop in their profession. These include reading
research studies, attending workshops, doing research, discussing pedagogical issues with
colleagues, keeping diaries and reflecting on their teaching practices. There are also online
interactive opportunities such as online courses, webinars & talks, discussion forums &
communities. Teacher learning by observing colleagues can also be very effective if properly
conducted and accompanied by pre- and post-observation activities which involve the observee
and observer. Peer observation is a process rather than a product from which both parties can and
should benefit. Observing peers only once may not necessarily lead to full understanding of their
classroom practices. Therefore, it is essential that two colleagues should set up a plan to perform a
series of observations which are supported by a critical discussion of main points of the observed
lesson. This follow-up interaction may also require them to identify the differences and similarities
in the practices of each other. It is also critical that they monitor explicitly the influence of peer
observation and discussions on their development and learning. These aspects will be introduced
throughout the task.

Before the observation



Activity 1

Answer the following questions with your colleague.

1. What can you learn from observing colleagues?

2. What general factors should you consider before doing peer observation?

3. Your colleague should give you a lesson plan before the observation; why?






Cambridge English Teacher Cambridge University Press and Cambridge English Language Assessment 2014







During the observation


Activity 2


1. Take notes regarding the given lesson plan and your answers in Activity 1.3 so that you
have discussion points after the observation.

Post-observation reflection

Activity 3

1. After the observation, please comment on the following aspects:

a. Write down three points you would like to discuss with your colleague.
i. _____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________
ii. _____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________
iii. _____________________________________________________
____________________________________________________.

b. What did you particularly like about or feel went well during the observation?
_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________.

c. Was there anything you thought didnt go so well? Why?
_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________.



Cambridge English Teacher Cambridge University Press and Cambridge English Language Assessment 2014






d. Comment on the following points, with reference to the lesson plan.
i. Teachers use of time and pace.
ii. Types and range of activities used.
iii. Interaction patterns (whole class, pair work, group work etc.), monitoring and
feedback.


Post-observation feedback

Activity 4

1. Discuss the points and your notes in Activity 3 with your colleague.

a. In what ways are your teaching styles similar / different?
b. In what ways can you help each other to develop professionally through doing peer
observations?
c. What did you find interesting or challenging about the peer observation?


Reflection task

Activity 5

Having completed the observation process, answer the following questions.
1. What is your attitude towards doing peer observation?
2. What did you find most useful about the process of observing?
3. Would you do anything differently the next time you observe another or the same peer?

Further reading

Bailey, K. M. (2006) Language teacher supervision, Germany: Ernst Klett Sprachen.
Day, R. R. (1990) Teacher observation in second language teacher education, Second language
teacher education, 43-61.
Malderez, A. (2003) Observation, ELT Journal, 57(2), 179-181.
Parrott, M. (1993). Tasks for Language Teachers, Germany: Er